Best of CH 2017: Cars + Tech

An essay on the Apple Watch, test drives, conferences and more

As yet another year comes to a close, we’ve been curious about the innovations being made across the car and tech industries. Some of the team at CH are self-professed geeks, while others aren’t nearly as tech-savvy, yet we are all constantly engaged with the clever devices and inventions that we use daily. The selected articles here aren’t necessarily about the year’s biggest car or tech announcements, or the most popular products, rather we approach technology and auto from a similar angle that we do our other categories of interest—with open minds to seek out an interesting backstory, interview the professionals behind an innovation, road test products and beyond.

Depth Photography Apps and the New iPhones

Apple introduced Portrait Mode awhile back utilizing the dual lenses on their plus model phones to map depth in an image and blur out the background, creating the effect of a fast lens with the aperture wide open. With both the iPhone 8+ and the iPhone X on iOS 11 the depth data from portrait mode images is available to developers. Within Apple’s own Photos app this enables a new set of effects called Portrait Lighting to create dramatic, theatric or studio-like images. Third parties, however, are just beginning to tap in to the depth API to offer intriguing options for image editing. While Infltr simply allows you to filter and edit the foreground and background of an image separately, Focos let’s you choose exactly which parts of the image you want in focus and for those that blur out there’s extensive control for the blur effect.

The New Geometry of Sound

Master & Dynamic launched the MA770 back in April. As fans of the brand and their collaborator Sir David Adjaye, we were thrilled when they asked us to help them produce a video about this brilliant pairing of design and engineering. In our interview with Adjaye we dug into his relationship with music and how that influenced the process and direction for the MA770. Watch the latest CH Studio production.

Notes: The Apple Watch 3 Has Me Back on the Kool-Aid

When the original Apple Watch launched in the spring of 2015 I was obsessed with the promise of a wearable to end all wearables. After all, Apple did it with the iPhone—a device that changed the world for businesses and consumers alike and set a course for all phones to follow. I committed to wearing the Watch daily for about six months. Once the novelty wore off, so did my desire to wear it. I found the usability and functionality to be just OK, and in the competition with my love of traditional analog watches, the tactile sensation of an automatic’s rotor and the craftsmanship of tiny gears won out; I stopped wearing the Apple Watch. Fast forward to the Watch 3—I’ve been wear-testing the newest LTE model for over a month and am loving it—comparing it to the first version is like night and day.

Interview: Ivy Ross, Google’s Head of Hardware Design

In her role as VP of Hardware Design at Google, Ivy Ross brings creative expertise in everything from fashion and jewelry to toys and art and even sound healing and Mien Shiang (the Chinese art of face-reading). She dropped out of college right before graduating to open a design concept store in NYC, but still managed to attend Harvard Business School and was recently given an honorary PhD from FIT, her would-be alma matter. Ross is creative yet decisive, sensitive yet bullish. Perhaps, when combined, this has resulted in her untraditional career path which includes brands like Calvin Klein, Mattel, Gap and Swatch in senior positions that toe the line between marketing and design. Though she knows how to navigate the corporate sphere, she’s also an artist whose metalwork is featured in museums around the world. Ross joined Google in 2014 to head up Glass and endured the rollercoaster of that product, ultimately landing it in the enterprise space. She began her current role looking after all hardware design about 16 months ago.

Roadtripping From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

It’s the smoke that first assaults the senses when stepping out of the airport in Hanoi. That, or the countless Samsung advertisements that seemingly stretch to the periphery of the eyeballs. In the van on the way to our hotel, crooners belt local love-ballads on the radio. The lamps illuminating the highway are a little different than the ones back home, everything adding up to solve some puzzle. During the ride we make small talk, this newly formed assemblage, people about to embark on an adventure together, that establishing-of-the-familiar thing that humans do when grouped together in new places. We’re here to traverse Vietnam in style—a veritable convoy of Toyota TRD Pro trucks, kitted and capable, serve as our chariots, taking us from the capital city of Hanoi, through the jungle-intertwined towns of Central Vietnam, before making our way to the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.

Test Drive: 2017 Land Rover Discovery

The impressive fifth generation Land Rover Discovery is a ground-up redesign of the brand’s most capable (and likely most popular) vehicle—an all-purpose, family-friendly SUV with brand-defining off-road capabilities and suburban appeal. Sitting above the Discovery Sport stablemate, the two start to round out the brand’s Discovery vehicle offerings, which are centered on utility. The Range Rover family, which is focused on refinement and luxury offerings, includes the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, the new Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque. The beloved Defender family, known for its highly capable off-road vehicles, is gearing up for a refresh, with no models likely in production until the 2019 model year.

A Historic Day at the Steve Jobs Theater

“One of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. You may never meet the people, shake their hands, hear their story or tell yours, but somehow in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there.” Steve Jobs’ words opened today’s Apple keynote—the first in the theater named for him on the new campus he began to imagine over a decade ago as a “workspace within a landscape.” The two-hour keynote, led by Tim Cook, followed Apple’s usual format and included all of the announcements we were expecting based on the rumor mill: iPhone X, iPhone 8, Apple Watch 3 and Apple TV 4K. Yet, it was a historic day.